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The story of how Ridley's brewery came to be established begins with William Ridley, who in 1811 married Maria Dixon, the daughter of a mill owner at Hartford End. Shortly after their marriage the ownership of the mill passed to both William and Maria.

Many of the old pubs were originally bakeries supplied by the Ridley's Mill and in some of the pubs parts of the original ovens are still in place.

In 1814, Maria gave birth to Thomas Dixon Ridley and it is after him that T D Ridley & Sons Limited is named.

Thomas Dixon took on his father's business, and in 1841 he married Lydia Wells, who came from a brewing family in Chelmsford. Within a year, Thomas Dixon had built his own brewery downstream from the mill on the bank of the River Chelmer, just one mile West of the Compasses Inn.


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